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The 60 Books I Read in 2018…

December 31, 2018– Well friends, it’s been an epic year in so many ways; I started some new adventures, made lots of new friends, traveled, and of course published a few books. But what about the books I read? It would be unfair of me not to mention them as some of them made such an impact on me, that my life and way of thinking will never be the same. 

60 books in a year was my goal, and I’m happy to say that I reached it. For all of you numbers nuts, that works out to approximately 1.15 books per week. Now, remember that not all of the books I read were in paperback format, some of them were audio books, and e-books. This method of “reading” allowed me to listen to books while travelling and while doing mundane tasks. I know that without audio books, it would have been much harder for me to reach my goal of 60 books read for the year. 

Let’s get on with it! Here is my list of books that I read in 2018: (A quick search on Amazon will show you details and the authors)

  1. 5 Thieves of Happiness
  2. Murder, She Wrote- Hook, Line, and Murder
  3. The Million Dollar Blog
  4. Thirteen
  5. Clockwork
  6. Profit First
  7. Murder, She Wrote- Dying to Retire
  8. Never Lose a Customer Again
  9. Mind Over Mind
  10. Outwitting the Devil
  11. Murder, She Wrote- Scared to Death
  12. Hocus Pocus
  13. Google Adwords
  14. Every Breath You Take
  15. The Couple Next Door
  16. You are Not so Smart
  17. The Brain that Changes Itself
  18. Tools of Titans
  19. You
  20. Make Your Bed
  21. Discipline Equals Freedom
  22. The Power of Gratitude
  23. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
  24. To Kill a Mockingbird
  25. Witches
  26. Unmarketing
  27. E Squared
  28. Do the Work
  29. 12 Rules for Life
  30. The Checklist Manifesto
  31. The 5 Second Rule
  32. The Obstacle is the Way
  33. Plum Lucky
  34. The 10x Rule
  35. 33 Strategies of War
  36. Brainfluence
  37. All Marketers are Liars
  38. The Toyota Way
  39. The Magic of Thinking Big
  40. The 48 Laws of Power
  41. Challenge Your Potential
  42. Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty
  43. The Positive Power of Negative Thinking
  44. How I write
  45. On Writing (Stephen King) 
  46. It 
  47. Delores Claiborne
  48. The Psychology of Winning
  49. 1 Page Marketing Plan
  50. The Art of War
  51. The Idiot Brain
  52. Screenwriting for Dummies
  53. Nocturnal Animals
  54. I See You
  55. The Woman in Cabin 10
  56. The Sales Bible 
  57. Save the Cat
  58. Book Yourself Solid
  59. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
  60. Holes 

So, there you have it! I look forward to reading another 60 books in 2019. Remember, you can never be overdressed or overeducated. Happy Reading! X LLB 

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Why are (Insert Name of famous Card Company Here)Movies so Predictable?

December 24, 2018 I’m not a fan of Christmas movies. I’m not a fan of all  Christmas movies, I do like Die Hard (best Christmas movie EVER) and the Grinch, but that’s about it. My loved ones, on the other hand, are major lovers of all things Hallmark. Here’s the whole storyline in a nutshell; a single, career woman who is too busy for love, but she has to move to a small town where a local, handsome bachelor teaches her the true spirit of Christmas. It starts snowing, they kiss, and there is a dog. The End. 

Did I miss anything? Didn’t think so. Yes, there is a place for story lines like this, people want to feel cuddly and cozy, and they want simplistic, feel-good stories with a happy ending. It’s fun to watch these movies with a cup of hot cocoa and baileys, hold the cocoa, and some cookies, while snuggled up with a blanket and a cat. But, there is no place for predictability in your writing. There ARE formulas to follow when writing of course; whether it’s romance or thriller, or mystery, there are certain elements that each genre contains.  Here are two easy tips to follow so that your writing doesn’t become stale like the leftover holiday treats currently sitting on your kitchen counter.

1) Approach your story as a reader

The above tip is probably obvious, but it’s the most important step when writing effective plot twists. If your reader can predict where the story is going, you’re sunk. There’s nothing worse than watching a movie and being able to know what happens before it happens. I do this quite frequently as a viewer/reader; we’ll be watching a movie and I’ll get up to pour some more wine (I have to drink wine while watching holiday movies…it’s the only way I can stand it) and as I leave the room, I’ll say to my husband, “Then her fiance comes back, she leaves with him, she returns when she realizes he’s the wrong guy, the Christmas guy and the main character kiss and live happily ever after.” UGH (insert eye roll here) I hate always being right.

When you’re plotting your novel constantly put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Which direction would you expect the story to go? What twists and turns come to mind? Write all of these down and then throw them in the garbage and delete them out of your manuscript forever. If you think there’s the slightest possibility that the reader can figure out your plot twist, you’re probably right. Change it.

2) Ensure your twist is believable and necessary – and makes sense

Plot twists are sudden, unexpected changes of direction, but they must still be realistic and believable. No matter how unpredictable your plot twist might be, a plot twist doesn’t make sense or further the story is not effective. Readers won’t be impressed and they may even get frustrated and stop reading. Don’t resort to hacks, and never introduce a plot twist just for the sake of including one. Remember Sharknado? Yeah. Well there you go, see what I mean?

There you have it, two sure-fire ways to make sure your writing is unpredictable, but meaningful. Happy writing! X LLB

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It’s Time for a Break…

December 24, 2018– We work extremely hard around here and as an author, you do too! I’m going to be honest and say that it’s the time of year where I am running on fumes and barely making it from day to day at the hectic pace I’ve been keeping for almost a year. It’s time for a break and here’s how I know that it’s time: (Let me know in the comments below how YOU know that it’s time for you to take a break)

  1. I’m not enjoying what I’m doing anymore. Yep, this is a sure sign that I need a break from working. I LOVE what I do, I appreciate the business that I’m in, and I love to work. I know that when I’m not loving things anymore and I’m struggling to get through my fifteen hour days, that it’s time for a break.
  2. I want to stay in bed. Ugh, my day usually begins anywhere from 5:00 am to 6:00 am depending on what I’ve got on my schedule. Usually, I jump out of bed and can’t wait to get my day started, but when I’m in need of a break, I find that I’m sleeping longer and hitting the snooze button on my alarm. My body and my brain are telling me that it’s time to rest.
  3. I have major writer’s block. Words usually flow like a faucet when I’m writing and when I’m working on something I love like blogging. When I’m out of steam, I find that the words are difficult to find, I can’t put words on paper, and it takes me forever to get anything done. The blog posts this week, for example, have taken me almost two weeks to complete. Usually, it takes me a week to write ALL of the blog posts for the MONTH.
  4. I’ve lost my motivation and avoid important tasks while focusing on useless projects. This is a huge sign that I’m in desperate need of respite. Yeah, I’ve got two books to write, four manuscripts to edit, three shows to get ready for, and task, after task, after task on my to-do list, but do you know what I’m going to do instead? I’m going to clean out a junk drawer that has been in the kitchen. GAHHHHHH!
  5. I get crabby, and the little things set me off. WHY IS THERE NO PERIOD HERE? I scream into a random manuscript on my desk. Whoa, take it easy, it’s not a big deal, it’s all going to be ok. When it’s time for a break from it all, the little things will drive me insane. Walk away from the desk and put down the pen for a while, my sanity depends on it.

So, with all being said, it’s time for me to rest, relax, and recuperate over the next few days so that I can be well rested for our big plans in 2019! From all of us at Pandamonium Publishing House, we wish you and your family a Very Merry Christmas, and a Safe and Happy Holiday.

X LLB

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Commas Rule! (Or is it comma rules?)

December 21, 2018- Sorry, friends…it’s Comma Rules, but Commas do rule in my opinion! Check out this awesome info-graphic on how to properly use commas. 

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Learning to Love Failure (as an Author)

December 19, 2018– Failure is a part of life,  everybody fails at something one time or another. It’s important to embrace failure in a way that we can learn and grow from it. I’m a big believer that every no brings us closer to a yes. It’s easy to get discouraged, but I promise that failure isn’t so bad! Maybe you’ve failed at securing a book deal, maybe you’ve failed in reaching the target you set for yourself in book sales, or you’ve received yet another rejection letter; whatever it is, don’t give up!  Here are three reasons why failure is a good thing: 

  1. Failure is a great teacher. Here’s the thing; failure is going to happen no matter how hard you try to avoid it so don’t fear failure, embrace it! Failure teaches us more than success ever will. Don’t expect to fail, but when it happens, accept it and move on. However, don’t make the same mistakes repeatedly, learn from them, get better, and move on. 
  2. Failure helps us reach our potential. When we have a no fear attitude, we are able to take risks and when we take risks, we get the chance to be rewarded. It’s when we operate outside of our comfort zones that we accomplish the most. Trying and failing is better than not trying at all. Failure motivates us to do better, push harder, and persevere until we succeed. 
  3. Failure builds character and keeps us humble. When our egos are in charge, we don’t learn anything; our egos always want to be right which is dangerous because of course, sometimes we are wrong. Failure reminds us that we still have a lot to learn no matter how much we think we already know!  Failure reminds us that we can do better and that as long as we are willing to keep trying, we will succeed eventually. 

Now, I know this post is probably not what you want to hear, but if we don’t look at failure as an opportunity, then it’s wasted and we are likely to keep making the same mistakes again and again. Fail forward; it’s the only way. 

X LLB 

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Why Two Heads are Better Than One…

December 17, 2018– You’ve seen it on bookshelves across the country; James Patterson and Bill Clinton, Stephen and Owen King, and soon enough, yours truly with an author I have yet to introduce you to. (I’ll talk about this next year because I know how you guys love waiting for surprises;)

Co-authoring is on the rise so let’s talk about how to do it right because there is a whole pile of ways to do it wrong! Here are some ways to destroy your chances of collaborating successfully and how to ruin your working relationship with the author you’ve chosen to pair up with.

  1. Moving too fast. Writing with someone is essentially like getting married; it’s a terrible idea to get engaged on the first date and let’s face it, people who do this aren’t likely to last. Same goes for collaborating with another author; read their stuff, get to know their style and strengths, and allow them the time to do the same for you. Also, be sure to decide if the person you want to work with is a good fit for your personality; you guys will be spending a lot of time together and the last thing you need are major personality clashes. That won’t work for anyone.
  2. Not planning. Planning is quite literally the thing that either supports or inhibits your success while writing with someone else. If you don’t have a plan, you’re screwed. I’m a massive fan of outlines, and I use them always, that’s why I recommend 3 frameworks when collaborating: A) General outline of the book from start to finish, B) An overview of what author number 1 is working on C) An overview for what author number 2 is working on. Your outlines should include deadlines because if they don’t, what’s the point? We both know it will never get finished. This outline had better include what the marketing expectations are for both parties once the book is published or you’re going to have a killer headache sorting things out at the end of it!
  3. Lack of communication. Not clearly defining the expectation of both parties is a recipe for setting yourself on fire. You don’t want to burn, and you don’t want the other person to burn either, you guys are a team; decide how often you’re going to communicate and how the communication will be sent. Also, make perfectly clear who is responsible for what. Communication is key, and if you can’t communicate properly with the person you’re going to collaborate with, how the hell are you going to co-author with them?
  4. No Genre. For the millionth time, you can’t hit a target you can’t see. If you don’t know WHAT you’re writing, HOW are you supposed to write it and market it? You can’t. Pick a genre and stick to it. The writing marketplace is structured by genre; where will you put your book on the shelf when it is finally finished if you don’t know which genre it falls into? Your book isn’t for everyone, and if it is, your book is for no one.

Collaborations on any type of work can be risky, but that shouldn’t deter you from creating fabulous art with your fellow writers. Just make sure you follow the above tips and work with someone who is as awesome as you are!

Here’s to your success!
X LLB

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What are Your 2019 Writing Goals?

December 12, 2018– Goals are important for everything in life. If you’re a follower of this blog, you’ll know that I’ve said it a million times, “You can’t hit a target you can’t see.” I’m a firm believer that goals are essential for success, and here’s the thing, even if you fail to reach your goal, you’ll be a hell of a lot closer than you would be if you had never set a goal in the first place.

So, as the end of the year looms closer, it’s time to focus on what you want for 2019 and beyond regarding your writing career!

Here are some things that you could consider, but remember, goals are personal, and it all depends on what YOU want for yourself. Will 2019 be the year that you:

  1. Finish your novel– make this the year that you finally finish it! Set a timeline and stick to it. Stop procrastinating!
  2. Start a writing business-figure out what you need to do and get it done. Start with one thing at a time. A lot of info is available online, and you can always bring in the pro’s for help, talk to your accountant, bank, whoever you need to help point you in the right direction.
  3. Write every day– If you choose this goal and stick to it, you’ll get an UNBELIEVABLE amount of writing done. Your writing will improve, you’ll get better at self-editing, and you will have accomplished something that only professionals do. This will be a fabulous 2019 goal if you’re serious about turning your writing into something. Set a goal of words or pages per day and sit your ass in the chair. Make an appointment with yourself and DON’T CANCEL.
  4. Join a club-Is this the year that you’ll finally join like-minded authors? Will you complete continuing education to start or continue to hone your writing skills? Will you say yes to new opportunities? Are you ready to break out of your shell and see what’s in store for you?

I’ve got my own goals in store for 2019 that I’ve already started. So why should you wait? Start working on them now and just think of all that you’ll get done before January!

Here’s to your success in 2019 and beyond!
X LLB

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Fun Facts about Our Books!

December 10, 2018- This is super fun! Each one of our books is very special in their own right. Check out the details below on what’s hiding in our books!

Picture books: 

  • Did you know that in Miranda the Very LOUD Mouse, there is a hidden piece of cheese on almost every page? Can you find them? Also, on the page where Miranda is at the museum, there are some pretty famous art pieces that include Michelangelo’s David statue, Starry Night painting by Van Gogh, The Scream painting by Edvard Munch, and of course, The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • The book Pants, by Tamara Botting, has different pieces of fabric that were digitally scanned in to get the colours and textures on the page. This book also contains colouring pages at the back for kids to design their very own pair of pants!
  • Martin the Tap-Dancing Frog and Spiders Wearing Sweaters are both hand painted and then scanned in digitally to an illustration program! That’s why both books have such a unique look. Also, Spiders Wearing Sweaters can be ordered with or without the adorable plush spider that came in your kit!
  • Sammy, the Singing Cat, features some very famous Jazz artists on the wall of one of the music schools; Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra make a cameo, but this time in animal form!
  • The Adventures of Milan and Friends; Trouble with Trolls (A Halloween Tail) has the titles of our books on the spine of the books that are featured in the treehouse! Plus, there’s a tribute to all of our animal friends that we have lost, on the wall of the same page. Also, Milan is a real golden retriever in the author’s life!
  • Phillip Star has the best ending! You’ll have to read it😊
  • Panda, the Very Bad Cat, is based on the author’s real cat named Panda and a smug shot of said cat is featured in the back of the book. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this title is donated to animal shelters to help animals in need.
  • Deer Diary features a sneak peek on an overlapping character! There is a poster on the wall of the last page that features the character Frog from Martin the Tap-Dancing Frog.

 All of the books by Lacey L. Bakker, feature a PANDA in one form or another as a hat’s off to the book that started this entire company and adventure which was Panda, the Very Bad Cat!

Mid-Grade Books:

  • Unfrogged, by Tamara Botting, features a princess named Meredith who is based entirely on the author and how clumsy she is. Tamara let this book sit for ten years before getting it published!
  • The Old Farmer’s Treasure– is based on the author’s husband’s childhood in Northern Ontario. There is also a sequel to this book coming in 2019 where the boys are all grown up!

 Adults Only:

  • Obsessed with Her– Was consulted on by the head of the Toronto Homicide Unit for not only credibility in some scenes, but also accuracy! This book is rated R and had to have a sticker put on the front of it because of the complaints that we were receiving. It has mature themes, language, and violence, and is not for the easily offended or squeamish. Also, the PREQUEL to Obsessed with Her, titled, Becoming James Cass, will be available for pre-order on our site in January 2019 and will be released in February 2019. This book currently has a 4.5-star rating on Good Reads. While the author was writing this book, her husband was away for five weeks, and she had to stop writing because she was scared to be alone! A lot of people think the author of this book is a man, but they are mistaken. And one more thing? The front cover gives away the ending:)

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